By Carolyn Eagen
If you spend your morning commutes dreaming up new ways to deal with a nightmare employee, it’s time to take action in 2015. Eliminating employee misconduct is a huge challenge for anyone who has ever uttered those fateful words “You’re hired,” then quickly regretted it.
If an employee is unproductive, making mistakes, or otherwise causing severe anxiety, there are legitimate ways to take action. Firing the employee should be your last resort.
Progressive Discipline can improve a poor performer’s work habits and outlook. Your goal as a manager should be to turn around inappropriate behavior. Consider these procedures before termination:
1) Schedule a private meeting. Offer resources, tools, or any aids that might get your employee on track. Ask questions that prompt a discussion. Listen for clues about what motivates your employee – and what doesn’t!
2) Issue a verbal warning. Refrain from making subjective, generalized statements like, “You have a bad attitude.” Provide quantifiable data, dates, times and specific instances of shortcomings. Disclose your expectations, and underscore the consequences if improvements are not seen by a specific and realistic date.
3) Document the details. Make sure to document each counseling session to protect yourself and minimize the risks of a wrongful discharge claim if termination becomes necessary.
4) Issue a written warning. If performance continues to be problematic, issue a written warning reiterating expectations, objectives, and the consequences for unacceptable behavior. Place in the employee’s file.
5) Termination. If a verbal and written warning does not produce results, your only option may be termination. Be sure it is appropriate and in line with past disciplinary measures. Eliminate any possibility of your employee filing legal action against you.
Be prepared to deal with fallout, such as resentment from the terminated employee’s peer allies. You might also hear grumbling from remaining staff members who must work harder or longer until the employee is replaced.
You will undoubtedly need thick skin, at least until the dust settles.
Of course, you can avoid the stress and expense of employee terminations by making better hiring decisions. Interviews, resumes and personal recommendations are helpful, but problems like incompatibility with a workplace or conflicting business strategies may initially go unnoticed then lead to intolerable frustration and stress on the job.
Many managers use behavioral assessments to help. These reports can flag a candidate’s possible incompatibility with a job, a manager, and a specific workplace while pointing out ways to maximize that person’s potential. Managers can also learn more about their own work habits and use that to adjust to the needs of their team.
The aftershocks from terminating an employee are far reaching and can trigger anything from pangs of remorse to expensive lawsuits. Protect yourself and your organization by doing all you can to find employees who will enhance your team, not bring it down. Sometimes the best solution to a big problem is to avoid having it in the first place!
Carolyn Eagen is a Sales Consultant for the Omnia Group, a behavioral assessment and employment consulting firm. Ms. Eagen can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.